Threshold: 16. In the Morning Light, Pt. II

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16. In the Morning Light, Pt. II

Chapter 12 – In the Morning Light.

Part Two

* * *

Galvanized by the sight, Frodo leapt to his feet. He had seen Rosamunda shed tears before, but not like this! He pulled her to him, drawing her back to sit on his lap on the edge of the bed.

“Oh, Frodo,” she hiccoughed miserably, “Now you will get all bloody, too!”

Frodo made soothing sounds of comfort, but inside he was trembling. He tried not to grip her too tightly as he said, “As if I care two figs for that!” He shushed her and rubbed her back while he struggled for calm.

“Rosa, love, tell me,” he asked, smoothing her hair away from her face, “What is wrong? If it is not … what it was before, when you lost the baby … if it is only your menses, why do you weep so?”

Rosamunda did not speak but he felt her relax against his chest as he rocked her. Whether the rocking comforted her or not, it comforted him, a salve to his own distress.

In a moment she had mastered herself. The sobbing stopped. But when he lifted her chin, he saw that her face was wet with tears, her eyes still brimming. He reached for the corner of the sheet, but Rosamunda had anticipated him. She blotted her face on the sleeve of her nightdress.

“I am all right,” she said with a dismissive sniff. “Really, Frodo. It is nothing. It is just that –”

Her voice began to quaver and she looked away.

“It’s ‘nothing’?” he asked, gently incredulous. “Come,” he coaxed, turning her face to see her eyes. “Tell me what it is, Rosa.”

She seemed unable to bear his gaze and stared at the bedside rug, instead, as if examining its pattern.

He waited while she took great breaths, one after the other, as if she might swallow down the tide of feeling.

“It is just – it’s just that –”

She was not yet ready, it seemed. She took up the corner of sheet that Frodo had retrieved and folded it over then opened it, smoothing it on her lap. Repeating the action seemed to calm her. She began again.

“I knew that my menses were due, of course,” she managed more easily, watching the work of her hands. “I was late – I said so last night – that is not unusual. Truly, I thought nothing of it. But when I awoke this morning … Oh, Frodo!”

She ceased folding and turned to him a pair of eyes so naked with happiness everything twisted inside him. Her face shone and her eyes were brilliant, as if with remembered rapture. Her hushed voice trembled as the words tumbled out, “I was so happy! So filled with joy!”

“Then I must have forgotten,” she said more slowly, as if trying to understand it herself. “The shock of seeing that it was morning must have driven it all away, you see.” Twisting her fingers she said, “But now I remember....”

More intrigued than ever, Frodo gave her a gentle prompt, nudging her with his forehead. She acknowledged it, giving him a crooked smile.

She took another breath.

“When I woke up, I was so happy because – because I thought – I must have thought –”

Her lower lip began to quiver and she bit it. She pressed her hands against her eyes as if she might keep back her feelings that way.

“What was it you thought, Rosa?” he asked. “Go on, I am listening.” Reaching up, he took hers hands away from her face and guided them to her lap.

“I was dreaming,” she began, gazing down at their hands. “Just before I woke up.”

She exhaled a huff of breath and muttered, as if in apology, “Oh, it is silly, really …”

“Rosa, Rosa,” Frodo chided her gently. “You always say something is silly when it matters to you – but you think it oughtn’t.”

With a shy, sidelong smile, she said, “I believe you are right, Frodo.”

“Come,” he said. “Tell me. What did you dream?”

“I don’t remember, really. I mean, I do, but not in the way one remembers a tale or what one did at luncheon.”

She struggled for remembrance. As if she might see better, she narrowed her eyes as she spoke, her words drawn out. “Just bits of it stand out clearly,” she said. “A hill … the sound of grasses. The sky at night – big and black and full of stars. And a woman; a woman holding a shell.”

Her eyes widened as she stared; at what, Frodo could only imagine.

“The shell had something in it …” she said excitedly. “I can’t remember what it was, but it was something wonderful – something meant for me.” Turning to him she stammered, “Mostly I remember the way that I felt, Frodo. When I awoke, I was so unspeakably happy, I thought –”

Frodo gave her shoulder an encouraging squeeze.

“I thought –”

She swallowed a great draught of air.

“I awoke so certain,” she declared to him with blazing eyes. “The dream – the joy I felt! This time, I thought, this time –”

She looked at him desperately, crying, “Oh, Frodo!”

All the while she had been speaking, Frodo had been watching her brown hands moving over the white of her nightdress. She had run them over her middle, tenderly smoothing the fabric flat until she held them still, her fingers cradled over her belly.

Sudden realization blossomed up Frodo’s spine, making it tingle. His blood rose up his neck until it burned his cheeks and sang in his ears.

“Good heavens, Rosa,” he breathed, “You thought you were with child – after all?”

As he watched, fresh tears gathered in her eyes. He took her hands and pressed them.

“Yes,” she said, “I did.”

“But I thought – last night, you said –”

“I know what I said, Frodo,” she replied, returning his squeeze. “It is against all reason, but that is what I thought.”

Frodo did not know what to think. His thoughts were all a jumble. But she had not finished. She was pressing her fingers against her lip to restrain a fresh bout of tears. Then she continued.

“I knew it was impossible. I told you so myself. But the dream was so strong! Even if I cannot remember it all, it seemed like a message, not like other dreams. It made me believe that I was with child.”

Dropping her gaze to her lap she noticed his hand on her knee. She took it upon her lap and cradled it, caressing his fingers with hers. As she fondled it, Frodo thought she did it absently, as if the hand were not his. His impression was altered when she carried it to her cheek and pressed it there. Brushing the back of it with her lips she sighed, “My dearest love.”

Then, in a mood of resignation, she let his hand drop back into her lap.

“But it was just a dream,” she murmured, almost too low for him to hear. “Just an ordinary dream.”

He pulled her close.

Still she kept her tears in check, but, against his chest, he could feel the shudder of her effort.

Frodo spoke carefully, not certain how to proceed.

“Do you mean … that you wished you had conceived, Rosa? That you would have wanted the baby?”

She looked at him with affection. Then cupping the side of his face with her hand she gazed into his eyes.

“It seems quite incomprehensible to you, I see,” she said with a sad smile. “Oh, Frodo, I suppose it doesn’t make any sense. But, Oh, yes,” she said, her voice rising with feeling, “With my whole heart I would have wanted the baby.”

Frodo embraced her as the tears came, holding her against his chest as she wept. He stroked her, and murmured her name, but his mind was churning with his own thoughts.

She was right; it made no sense to him. He would have thought a pregnancy would be the very last thing she would want, considering her desire all along to keep their love from being discovered.

If he had got her with child, did she think no one would notice? And did she think she would be able keep his paternity a secret? Even if Folco held his tongue (and Frodo was sure he would), young Sam’s knowing look at the Ivy Bush hinted at how quickly it would be discovered just who the father was, once the hunt was up.

Not that there would be a hunt. Did she really imagine he would not step forward at once and acknowledge his part? Did she think he would let her face public censure alone?

There would be plenty of that and to spare were she, a widow, found to be with child. Frodo thought of Folco’s remarks of the previous night. As suggestive as they were, they were not nearly as vulgar as what would fall from other lips. He had lived long enough in the Shire to know which of them would bear the brunt of it. Whatever people said against him, in the end, few would hold the Baggins heir to blame. It would be Rosamunda folk would castigate.

Frodo had sat quietly in enough drawing rooms to know what sort of talk would be bandied over pots of tea in the parlours of the Shire.

She led him on – her with her knowing Took ways – mark my words! Odovacar Bolger should have been enough for any woman. Why couldn’t she leave the lad alone, to do his duty where he ought?

Meaning, with one of their daughters, he knew.

As he imagined the men as they guffawed and snorted over their mugs, jabbing each other’s ribs and smiling behind their hands at his entrance into the ‘Bush or the ‘Dragon, Frodo’s brow grew very dark. On innumerable occasions he had overheard such talk with amusement, but he bristled now to think of Rosamunda being made the object of it.

‘Seems as young Master Baggins has been ploughing a few furrows over at the Widow Bolger’s!

How they would wink and leer! He would come in for some finger-wagging, too, but only a little. In the end, he would be excused on the grounds of youth, and they would call him a lucky fellow.

Ploughing in Odovacar Bolger’s field is not so very bad, I don’t think. Not with her so young and hisself having passed on (and a better hobbit there never was – bless his memory).

Hear, hear

Mugs would be raised in tribute.

Aye, but to go planting a babe where poor Odo couldn’t? ‘T’ain’t right nor fitting. ‘T’aint respectful!

Aye, that’s so. But new seed sprouts best, they do say

At that, mouthfuls of beer would spew across the boards.

Oh, yes, Frodo could imagine it all.

While he had been thinking, Rosamunda had quieted. Recalled, he touched her face to summon her look. She straightened up a little so that he let his arms fall, letting them drape about her waist and hips as she sat.

Frodo spoke tentatively, groping for words that might suit.

“Rosa, I yet am amazed, I will admit,” he began. “When I think of how much care we have taken to keep our love a secret, that you should want another child … bewilders me.”

Anxiously she scanned his face before she made her answer.

“It was not ‘another’ child that I wanted, Frodo. I have two already, whom I love.”

She waited, as if hoping he might speak but he said nothing.

“Do you really not see?” she asked. “It is not any child that I have wanted, Frodo, but yours.”

Her shoulders drooped as leaned against his chest. “I suppose it was just one more thing I have not been able to admit to myself,” she muttered, “except in dreams.”

Frodo continued to hold her in a loose embrace, but nuzzled kisses into her hair while he considered.

She had wanted his child….

Until this moment, Frodo had not thought of being a father, not seriously. Like any other lad, Frodo had grown up assuming that someday he would marry and have a family. Why would he not? Except for Bilbo (and his second cousin Ferumbras, the Thain, whose health had been poor since a childhood mishap), he had not heard of a hobbit that had gone all his life unmarried.

Yet, “someday” was far off. His father Drogo had married somewhat late in life. He had been sixty when Frodo was born. Odovacar (who had stood in somewhat as a father to him) had married even later but he, too, had been sixty his first child came. Frodo would not be sixty for nearly thirty years!

As for getting a child with Rosamunda, now that he thought about it, he had not considered it a possibility until the night before. All these weeks that they had been lovers, he had never once worried that she might have conceived. Certainly, she had shown no signs of concern herself.

But, now that she had spoken, Frodo felt her words deeply. Her confession had touched something fundamental in him – deeper than reason – as deep as sinew and blood and bone.

“Rosa,” he said at last, stroking her hair, “Although I was taken by surprise, I am moved by what you have said, truly. That you should wish to conceive a child with me matters more than I could have guessed. I simply hadn’t thought of it before.”

“But, although I am touched,” he said, choosing his words with care, “I am … perplexed by your attitude, Rosa.”

He took a breath and cast caution aside.

“That is … how might it ever have been managed? Such a thing could not be kept a secret – not that I would let it be. But, all along you have worried about our being discovered, fearing what folk would say if they knew. Only think what they would say if they learned you were carrying a child – my child! We would reap nothing but censure, especially you, however unfairly. Folk would never accept it.”

He thought she would flinch at his words but she continued to regard him steadily.

“You are wrong, I think,” she said, unruffled by what must be his look of surprised disbelief. “I have been thinking about it, you know, all this while that you have been holding me. You are right, Frodo; there would be a great scandal. And, yes, there would be strong feeling against me. Shire folk are not truly vicious, but they can be hard-hearted and spiteful. Yet my greatest fear has been that they would make my children suffer, especially Freddy. He feels things deeply, you know, although he is quiet. Folk might even forbid their children to be their friends, or to marry them when they grew up – the son and daughter of the widow who took a lover – a young lover. A lover whom her husband had befriended. Worst of all, a lover who was the Baggins heir.” With a bitter laugh she tossed her head and quipped, “Mothers all over the Shire would feel terribly cheated!”

But when she glanced his way her manner softened. “And so they should, Frodo,” she said, gazing into his eyes. “So they should.”

Although he was abashed by the implication of her words, Frodo felt his heart swell.

Then she recalled her former mood. Earnestly she argued, “But as much as folk would hate our being lovers, they would hate it less, not more, if there were a child. If there were a child, our love would seem more justified in their eyes. It would have come to something – borne fruit. They would never like it, I will agree, Frodo, but I think they might accept it.”

Plainer still she said, “To have taken you to myself would be very bad in their eyes, Frodo. But to have taken you, only to produce nothing with you … that they could not forgive.”

As she scanned his face for understanding, the force of her words struck him. His heart began to hammer and the hair lifted from his scalp.

“Rosa,” he asked, fighting for composure, “Do you mean that if I had got you with child, you might have consented to marry me?”

The face she showed him blazed with love.

“Oh, Frodo,” she said, but his name sounded more like a stifled cry. Her voice was hushed with fierce tenderness.

“My dear, dear love. Do you not see? Bag End would have an heir. Not since Bilbo has there been a child at Bag End – a child of its own.”

Frodo choked down his own rush of feeling in order to speak.

“Do you care so much what people think, Rosa? About us not having a child?”

“It is not just what other people think,” she told him. “I think it, too. You see, it grieves me –” she began but stopped. She tried again. “My heart aches within me when I think –”

He watched as the cords stood out from her neck in her struggle to speak. Then, as if committing them to memory with trembling fingertips, she began tracing the features of his face. Her voice was a mere wisp, borne upon her laboured breaths as she spoke.

“When I think,” she began again, “That no child will carry your loveliness into the future – that all your beauty and fineness will die with you – Oh, Frodo, almost I cannot bear it. Yet that is your doom if you stay with me.”

He hesitated for only a moment before he replied. He had no doubts about his feeling in this matter.

“There is no ‘if’ about it. With you is where I shall stay. Is your heart not my home? … Is mine not yours? Rosa, do you remember what I said last night, when you told me of when you lost the baby? I said I would rather have you. My mind has not changed in a day. It is you whom I love, Rosa. It is a future with you that I want, not a child I have neither met nor imagined.”

Frodo slid his hands up her arms until he held her face between them.

“You are all I want, Rosa,” he declared. More softly, he asked her, “Am I not enough for you?”

“You are enough and more,” she answered, turning her cheek into his hand. “It is wrong of me to yearn for ‘what might have been’s.” She kissed his palm, and, raising her eyes to his she murmured, “Especially when you are here before me.”

Then she twined her arms about his waist and held him tightly, burrowing her face into his neck, breathing deeply, as if taking in his scent.

Frodo nuzzled the tip of her ear, inviting her kiss, which she gave.

Then she leaned back to look at him. Smiling into his face, she said, “There, I have done.”

As she got up from his lap she asked, “Shall we bathe and have something to eat?”

Frodo opened his mouth to give his assent but gasped when he saw his lap. It was ruddy with gore.

“Heavens, Rosa, you have killed me!” he cried.

For a moment they both stared, but then they gave themselves up to mirth, breaking into peals of laughter.

As her giggles subsided, Rosamunda twisted round to look at the back of her nightdress. It was soaked in red.

“There’s the evidence, plain,” she said. Lifting to him a grave face she said, “I suppose I shall have to surrender myself to the Shirriffs. Although I am sure they will rule it ‘death by misadventure.’”

They laughed all over again before they returned to practical considerations.

“Oh, what a mess I have made of you, Frodo,” Rosamunda clucked. “Stay here while I fetch a towel.” With her nightdress bunched between her legs, she scampered out of the room, trailing giggles behind her.

Frodo was just standing up when she reappeared in the doorway, still with her nightdress between her legs but holding a pair of her thin wash towels.

“Here,” she said, leaning into the room to toss them to him. “I’ve got them damp for you.”

He dropped one onto the bed while he shook out the other.

From the parlour he heard her calling, “You bathe first, Frodo! Then you might fetch more water while I have a turn! There are a lot of linens to rinse out, I am afraid!”

Frodo glanced at the damp cloth he held. Already it was stained a rusty pink from wiping the wettest places on his legs. The sheets where he had sat bore a long red crease where Rosa’s blood had seeped between his thighs. The mattress tick was probably stained, too, though that might have to wait. Then there would be her nightdress.

Two trips for water should do it, he calculated as he finished up the tops of his thighs. But as he blotted his most sensitive areas, he changed his mind to three. Then, dabbing at his matted curls (shifting himself out of the way as necessary) he thought, no, four. They would definitely need four trips to the well, taking into account the night to come. Did Rosa keep that many buckets?

Frodo took up the second towel, shook it open, and draped it over his hand. As he thought of the evening ahead, he slackened his pace and began to take more pleasure in the business. As he drew the thin damp cloth over and around himself, he no longer needing to shift anything out of the way as pleasing images drifted through his mind.

He was leaning back, enjoying a leisurely whisk between the legs when he noticed Rosamunda standing there, leaning against the door jamb. She was watching him with rapt attention. Soft-mouthed and pink-cheeked, her breaths were deep and her eyes smoky as they lingered over the work of his hands.

Perhaps she still might be persuaded …?

She met his eyes and blushed hotly.

“I’ll go and fill the basin, shall I?” she said, then spun on her heel and went.

* * *

Frodo waved a piece of buttered toast, showering the table with crumbs as he spoke.

“Too messy? Too messy?” he exclaimed. He dropped his voice an octave and flared his eyes dramatically. “Rosamunda! After this morning, how could I care a jot about ‘messy’?”

“Well, I care,” she sniffed, pressing her lips together firmly as she lifted her teacup.

Frodo continued to stare her down, his eyebrows lifted in exaggerated query. Surely she would not be able to keep her countenance. Already, he saw that mirth was beginning to pull at the corners of her mouth. She would relent, he knew it. With veiled triumph, Frodo watched as her smile peeped out then spread into a grin.

“Oh, very well,” she acquiesced with a sigh, “But we shall use a towel.”

“Yet, do you know?” she asked him seriously, “I have never sent out this much linen, not even while the children were here. The Hobbiton laundress must be looking at me sideways. I have taken to washing the spots out of the sheets out before I send them off.”

Frodo’s mouth dropped incredulously.

“You wash the wash before the laundress washes it?”

“I have never liked the laundress knowing every little thing,” she said, lifting her chin. “I always have washed out my own things; my shifts and the cloths for my menses. I did not wash out the spots when I was married, of course. That would have been silly!” she laughed, smearing more toast thick with butter before she offered it to him.

“Of course you wouldn’t!” he agreed as he watched himself drizzle honey over his slice.

Raising her buttery slice to her lips, Rosamunda’s eyes twinkled. “But I do wash them now,” she said.

Frodo grinned, but returned to his argument.

“Surely, Rosa,” he insisted, “Any laundress has far too much to do to examine every article of linen.”

“My dear Frodo, you are mistaken,” Rosamunda replied with hauteur, but she spoiled the effect by giggling. More seriously she told him, “A laundress knows everything, Frodo. She knows who is ill, who is having her menses, who cannot hold his water – as well as which couples still enjoy their marriage bed and which do not.”

“And …” she added with a very knowledgeable smile, “she knows which lads are most restless at night.”

Frodo blushed to his ears, but laughed.

Ah, the sheets he had stripped from his bed every week and tossed into the basket! All of them had been spotted and blotched with patches of starchy stiffness, the fruit of his nightly bursts of enthusiasm. Only since he had been spending his nights with Rosa had his linens gone to the laundress unsullied.

At the thought Frodo sat up, his fourth slice of toast suspended in mid-air.

Had the laundress noticed that, too, he wondered? If a laundress noticed spots, mightn’t she notice the absence of spots? Was the laundress wondering why his linens were suddenly so pristine?

Oh, piffle. He was becoming alarmed for nothing. Their laundress had been in Bilbo’s employ for years. If she did think such things she would keep quiet about them; Bilbo paid her generously.

Really, though, Frodo needed to become more noticing.

“… is why no one knows other folk’s business better than a laundress,” Rosamunda was saying. “And that is also why their discretion is more valuable than gold! I do trust our laundress in Budgeford,” she said decidedly. “She and hers have served the Bolgers for ages and ages. But your laundress,” she said, turning to Frodo, “seems awfully knowing.”

Awfully knowing….

Frodo felt his discomfort rise all over again. He slumped down in his chair.

Then he sat up straight.

“I tell you what I shall do,” he said, plucking up the last of handful cherries. On second thought dropping half back onto the dish. “Starting tonight, I shall bring some towels from home. We have stacks and stacks! Also, a sack to carry them away with. Washing things out at Bag End is so much easier than here, Rosa – what with all the water that must be carried up to the cottage. We’ve got tubs and basins, and the water comes right in from the cisterns above. Therefore, in future I will see to the rinsing of linens. How would that suit, Rosa?”

“Why, thank you, Frodo,” Rosamunda exclaimed, sounding extremely pleased and grateful. “That would suit very well!”

So surprised and delighted was she, Frodo dipped his head in shame.

Why had he not thought to do such trifling things before? He blushed to think how little he had thought to offer any service or gift in return for her unfailing hospitality, hospitality in which he had been revelling ever since he had become her lover.

Well, he would think to offer them now.

That very night, he would bring a stack of towels. And food. And wine!

What else? Ah, yes. The toothpowder.

* * *

After they had cleared away, Frodo and Rosamunda washed out the soiled linens and spread them over bushes at the edge of the copse to dry.

Then Frodo picked up his oilcloth cloak and Rosamunda tied on a hat. She also brought along a leather reticule, to carry her clean cloths. Then, together they walked down the little path, their arms about each other’s waists. Wherever the way was too rutted or overgrown, they held hands, instead, swinging them as they walked.

Neither spoke for a time, both of them enjoying the novelty of walking abroad in the light of day together. In the absence of speech, birdsong filled their ears, the meadowlarks flitting and dipping over the grasses through which they moved.

Frodo was first to break their silence, offering details of his plans. When they got to the place where the paths forked, he would cut across field to Overhill. The day was so fair, the Boffins surely would be hard at work preparing for the haying. He hoped his entry might even go unremarked, with everyone bustling about, hurrying hither and thither.

Rosamunda would walk to Bag End. Bilbo had abandoned his plans for making cherry wine, Frodo had told her at breakfast. It had been a disappointing failure the year before. Bilbo would macerate the fruit, instead, for use in winter punches and sauces. Help from the Gamgees had been promised. Little Marigold and Sam would come, for sure. May might come, too; but only for a little, having promised her services elsewhere. Bilbo had been lucky to get any of them, what with haymaking set to begin the next day.

Well, then, Rosamunda had said, dividing the last clusters of cherries to share with Frodo, she would offer her assistance. An extra pair of hands was always welcome.

As they walked along the mid-morning sun warmed them pleasantly, heating the tops of their shoulders as the wind rose and fell. Puffy clouds moved swiftly overhead, casting shadows that moved along the surface of the sea of grass before them. The heads of wild flowers nodded and tossed, making shifting daubs of colour in its midst.

“I shall miss all this when it is cut,” Rosamunda said, stopping to gaze across the hills. The grasses bent and rippled beneath a gust of wind. “The blades of the scythe men swing as long and as far from a village as hobbits have the strength to wield them.”

She guessed the grass would be taken even up to her cottage door, if it could be managed, lest the winter be a hard one.

Another gust almost took her hat, but, with her free hand she held it while the ribbons whipped across her throat.

“Oh, I don’t think they will come this far,” Frodo said as he followed her gaze, considering. “They haven’t cut it this far in years. This is left for winter grazing.”

Their talk dwindled again to nothing and at the bottom of the next dip Frodo stopped.

“This is it.”

Frodo lifted an arm, pointing along a furrow that ran east, perpendicular to the cart track to Hobbiton. The furrow curved around a knobby hill that rounded high against the eastern horizon.

“That is supposed to be a path?” Rosamunda asked, smiling at him with amusement.

Frodo chuckled.

“I suppose you are right. It doesn’t look like much. The path was plainer when we kept it beaten down, when we were lads. From the top of that hill, one can see the all the way to Overhill.”

Together they stood and looked east.

“Will you be coming back?” she asked, squinting in the brilliant light. “I mean, to Bag End? Shall I see you there before this evening?”

She held her hat when a gust threatened to take it. The wind subsided but she let her hand remain, resting upon the sun-warmed crown.

“Oh, yes, I shall be back,” Frodo answered. “I intend to help.”

“Well, then,” she said, “You had better behave.”

Her words were saucy but her eyes were soft.

“Then you had better not let yourself be left alone, especially in the kitchen,” he countered.

Quickly Frodo scanned the horizon. He dropped his cloak in the path and pulled her to him. The wind rose and buffeted Rosamunda’s skirts about their legs and tugged their hair, but they clung to each other and kissed, not noticing. Only when her hat was snatched away did they relinquish their embrace. Frodo darted aside to fetch it as it cart-wheeled towards a little slough.

“Thank you,” she said, taking it from him. They both stood and looked at one another as the wind rose and fell.

“Well, I suppose I must be off,” Frodo said, taking a backwards step. He hesitated, as if unable to relinquish the sight of her. Then, with a show of resolve he turned to go.

“Frodo, wait,” she said, reaching out to grasp his arm. “I love you,” she said as he turned to her. “I shall ache every minute you are away.”

“Oh, Rosa!” Frodo’s face blazed with happiness. He squeezed her hand. “And I for you!”

Reining in his burst of zeal he merely brushed her lips, but let himself melt into a deeper kiss and meadowlarks wheeled overhead while the wind sang in the grasses.

When they parted, breathless, Rosamunda retrieved her hand. With her other she still held her hat.

“Goodbye, then,” she said with a resigned smile, slowly .


Frodo kissed her cheek, swept up his cloak from the path, and turned to go.

Rosamunda watched him go. At first Frodo trudged along. Turning frequently, he would look at her and smile. His momentum built until he nearly skipped, bounding up to the knob of the hill. At its crest, Frodo stopped to turn and look at her one last time. His dark hair streamed and the white of his shirt flattened and billowed over his chest as the wind whipped across the top of the hill. Sharply silhouetted against the intense blue of the sky, the picture he made etched itself upon her mind.

I love you, he mouthed, lifting his arm to wave.

And I love you, she whispered back, returning his wave.

Then he spun about, leapt down the other side and was gone, leaving an empty sky and grasses streaming white under the sun.

At length Rosamunda bestirred herself. She secured her hat and turned into the southward track, swinging her reticule as she went.

* * *

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: mechtild

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 07/21/06

Original Post: 07/10/04

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